Each day, schools and universities face cyber threats from bad actors who want access to the sensitive data stored in education systems. From phishing exploits to malware and even ransomware attack, the financial rewards that come from stealing personal identifiable information (PII) and selling it on the dark web can be tremendous for cybercriminals: A single student education record can be worth as much as $350. The latent value of compromised information is one of the reasons why the education sector receives more malware exploit attempts and ransomware attacks than any other industry.  

When a cyber threat escalates into a successful attack, schools and institutions stand to lose more than just the money that’s required to recover the stolen information. There’s an erosion of trust between the organization in charge of protecting data and the families whose information was stolen. Successful ransomware attempts and other cyber threats also present an additional challenge in education: Cyber criminals usually lock down critical systems to force institutions to pay large ransom payments. This halts operations and can lead to school shutdowns that last for days or weeks as IT administrators recover and restore lost data.  

That’s why the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends that all K-20 institutions implement a data backup and recovery system to restore essential services when an incident or outage occurs. A strong disaster recovery strategy ensures uninterrupted operations and quick recovery in the event of service interruptions or data corruption. In the case of a ransom wear attack, maintaining operational continuity and recovering data is essential for learning.  

Microsoft offers two different services that enable schools and institutions to safely and confidently backup data and restore applications and infrastructure: Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery. The Arizona Department of Education and Waseda University use these services as a part of a well-rounded business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy, and both have helped them simplify management, reduce data recovery time, and gain substantial return on investment.   

Continue reading to learn more about Microsoft’s industry-leading cybersecurity solutions and to: 

  • Understand how Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery help primary and secondary (K-12) schools and higher education institutions manage, store, and save data in the event of a disaster or outage. 
  • Explore how Waseda University and the Arizona Department of Education use Azure Backup to maintain critical systems that serve thousands of students, educators, and administrators. 
  • Discover the importance of quickly recovering from outages with applications like Azure Site Recovery. 
  • Protect your critical assets against ransomware with Azure Backup.   

Use Azure Backup for continuous data protection, compliance, and protection against ransomware


Azure Backup is a cost-effective, one-click backup solution that scales with a school or institution’s backup storage needs. Azure Backup provides:  

  • Centralized management: Monitor, operate, govern, and optimize data protection through a centralized Azure Business Continuity Center.  
  • Ransomware protection: Azure Backup provides a host of resilient protection capabilities such as immutability, soft delete for recovery of deleted data, granular access control, multi-user authorization, built-in security alerts, and more. 
  • Multiple-workload support: Back up on-premises servers, Azure Virtual machines, SQL Server and SAP HANA on Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Files, Azure Blobs, Azure Disk, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and Azure Kubernetes Service clusters.  
  • Durable storage options: Use locally redundant storage (LRS), geo-redundant storage (GRS), and zone-redundant storage (ZRS) for storage. 
  • Cost effective: Options such as archive tiering and reserved capacity pricing to further optimize costs.  

For budget-conscious schools and institutions, Azure Backup reduces the cost associated with backing up data and systems. IT administrators can access Backup reports to gauge the amount of required storage as well as send recovery points to the archive tier for significant savings in storage costs and compliance. There’s also a Backup pricing estimator for determining the cost of backing up any type of workload.  

Simplifying continuity planning at Waseda University 

When Hiroto Shibayama, IT Strategies Division Manager at Waseda University, realized that his university needed to strengthen its infrastructure by moving financial services to the cloud, he turned to Microsoft and its vendor partners to help migrate the University’s SAP systems and setup business continuity planning in the event of a major disruption. Shibayama adopted Azure Backup because of its capability to back up SAP systems–something that proved to be difficult with the University’s existing on-premises infrastructure.  

“After migrating to Azure, we used geo-redundant storage in Azure Backup to be able to retain backup data in East and West Japan, thereby enhancing our disaster recovery measures.” – Hiroto Shibayama, IT Strategies Division Manager, Waseda University  

Administrators immediately reaped the benefits. Shibayama noted that Azure backup helped Waseda University address business continuity planning (BCP) issues that proved difficult to surmount with other backup solutions. Additionally, the total cost of Azure Backup—the initial purchase and the five-year running cost—was also less than the previous system, and consolidating vendors reduced operational maintenance because all systems were migrated to the cloud within the centralized Azure portal. 

Backing up systems for the Arizona Department of Education 

Azure Backup also helped administrators from the Arizona Department of Education achieve peace of mind in the event of a disaster in one of their major systems—all on a shrinking budget.  

Like many primary and secondary school systems facing budget shortfalls, Edward Block and Chris Henry, administrators in the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), have had to do more with less for the past few years. Arizona’s budget constraints have impacted how Block and Henry manage large initiatives like the Arizona Education Data Standards (AzEDS), a data management system that processes millions of daily transactions from multiple information systems spanning the state’s 650 districts.  

The scale of the AzEDS system and its overall importance to daily operations made Block and Henry realize that a BCDR strategy was essential. Any major outage or disruption to AzEDS would be catastrophic from their perspective; in addition to being the primary reporting and data tracking tool for over 1 million students and 50,000 educators, ADE also used the AzEDS system to disperse and manage over $6.5 billion in school funding. 

With help from Microsoft partners like Veeam Software, ADE was able to set up an innovative backup, recovery, and data management solution. Azure’s flexibility enabled Veeam to easily integrate multitiered Blob Storage. “We have immutable backups coming from Veeam and immutable storage in Azure—both working in tandem protect our business continuity and data recovery,” said Henry.  

Manage outages and orchestrate disaster recovery with Azure Site Recovery 


Creating backups is one piece of BCDR strategies. Schools and universities also need to maintain operations and recover systems after disruptions occur. While traditional disaster recovery solutions are often piecemeal, expensive, and increase administrative overhead, Azure Site Recovery is a unified system that helps schools and institutions manage outages, and prevent downtime. 

Azure Site Recovery manages and orchestrates disaster recovery for Azure virtual machines, on-premises virtual machines, and physical servers. Because Azure Site Recovery is simple and cost-effective, there’s no need to purchase additional hardware or hire more IT administrators. It offers resiliency against zonal and regional outages. Using Azure Site Recovery, disaster recovery drills can be conducted to be prepared against any disaster without affecting ongoing replication. Schools and institutions only need to pay for the compute resources in the event of a disaster recovery drill or a real disaster. Azure Site Recovery also has a best-in-class recovery point objective so that complex systems like SAP and SharePoint can be restored in as little as 30 minutes. 

Built-in comprehensive security and compliance

Are you ready to learn how Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery can help you implement a comprehensive BCDR strategy that aligns with CISA cybersecurity recommendations? View these infographics to see how both solutions enable primary and secondary (K-12) schools and higher education institutions to remain operational when outages or disasters happen.